Afghanistan Womens Rights

Economic Destabilization: Taliban’s Ban on Female Employment Threatens Afghan Families

In one of the latest decrees, the Taliban has imposed a ban on female kindergarten teachers, adding to the long list of edicts targeting women. While officially issued by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, the order came from the Ministry of Vice and Virtue, a group historically known for enforcing arbitrary measures and acts of violence and abuse against women.

Nearly 500 female kindergarten teachers have lost their jobs due to the Taliban’s new edict, simultaneously depriving young children from receiving an education. The heavily female sector has denied claims from the Taliban’s Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs that they are simply awaiting new job assignments to other sectors. These rollbacks on women’s rights and freedoms come as the intentional result of systematic efforts to wipe away progress made for human rights in Afghanistan.

These recent actions represent one of many efforts of the Taliban’s establishment of a gender apartheid regime. The group systematically creates and enforces laws aiming to disempower women from positions of power in government, public and private sectors of life. Afghan women have resisted rights abuses, most recently protesting against the Taliban’s forced closure of beauty salons. These businesses were one of very few largely women operated areas of work still active today.

Taliban officials visit salons, destroying cabinets and salon supplies while female employees watch with hopelessness and frustration. About 60,000 women will lose their jobs due to the new edict by the end of July, the deadline for beauty salons to shut down their operations. Many of the women working in these salons bring home their family’s only salary. Stripping away these jobs eliminates their roles as sole breadwinners for their families, severely destabilizing Afghan families. 

Beauty salons, catering for women, only employs women and often, they are the only ones who bring income to the family. 

The salons also serve as spaces, almost safe havens where Afghan women could safely meet and socialize under the regime’s upheaval of a life they used to have. The past gains created under the Republic government of Afghanistan in exile did not necessarily live up to gleaming standards of progress, but progress came nonetheless and public attitudes favored women and girls inclusion and empowerment in public life.  

One Afghan woman commented on recent events saying, “They’ve [the Taliban] have taken us back 100 years – back to when they buried girls alive.”


NPR 07/16/2023; IJPR/NPR 07/15/2023

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